In contrast to Algeria and Haiti, Pakistan and India were founded via a peaceful, democratic struggle, and the liberation movement did not include bloodshed. Muhammad Ali Jinnah is lauded for employing diplomatic prowess and legal means, and Mahatma Gandhi is commended for obtaining independence via non-violent means. They paved the way for upcoming political figures and social movements in the two nations. However, both Pakistan and India failed to democratically address the complaints of their underdeveloped regions, which periodically led to violent upheavals. But in both nations, the general public believes that mainstream politics is democratic.
Think of Pakistan, which has had over a dozen national political revolutions since 1965. Every movement’s discourse was largely secular and had one single goal: toppling the authorities.
Gaining power for the sake of power was the fundamental objective. Although repetition is the mother of learning, you cannot learn if your goal is to sate your hunger. It seems reasonable that every civilian ruler who sought to isolate himself did so within a few years of taking office. Military tyrants had the means and the power to crush the opposition, but they too fell victim to it. Because of this, our tyrants swiftly became isolated, unlike their counterparts in the Philippines, South Korea, Chile, and Indonesia. The main distinction between Pakistan’s civilian rulers and military dictators is that the former military generals were never able to mount a return, but the former civilian rulers only did so to meet an earlier demise.
It is commonly accepted that the establishment has always had a hand in deposing democratically elected governments. One wonders if the establishment helped any political movements in any way. Contextual data demonstrates that there was frequently some kind of coordination between governing administrations. As a result, every major political movement was a mixed movement. Additionally, a hybrid government should have been born out of each hybrid movement.
The PTI’s current movement differs from its predecessors due to its lone flight. The majority of opposition parties in earlier political movements, including non-parliamentary parties and some who didn’t even support elections, formed unified fronts. In opposition to the governments of Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq, and Pervez Musharraf, for instance, the Awami Tehreek of Rasool Bux Palijo and the Mazdoor Kisan Party of Major Ishaq, Afzal Bangash, and Fatehyab Ali Khan and their supporters actively engaged. They were joined by the unions and the groups of journalists. The three dictators were overthrown as a result of their involvement in the movements, which served as the most powerful trigger.
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The present “uprising” led by PTI looks to be natural, the most well-liked, and ubiquitous in Pakistani history. The PTI’s opposition is distinct in many aspects, despite the tendency of certain opinion writers to contrast it with Bhutto’s ascent in the late 1960s. For instance, Ayub Khan was worn out and lonely when Bhutto started his party. Additionally, Ayub’s rule had already suffered damage before Bhutto’s ascent due to the efforts of nationalist and progressive parties, labour unions, students, and journalists. Ayub’s government in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and Maulana Bhashani have also damaged Ayub’s government in Bangladesh. An estimated 15 million individuals took part in the anti-Ayub campaign, according to some estimates. It is clear that a covert civil-military alliance existed since army generals also desired Ayub Khan’s retirement.
Another rebellion occurred throughout the nation in March 1977. With the aid of military generals, a nine-party coalition known as the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was able to remove Bhutto from office. It was expected that PNA leaders would eventually join Zia’s administration. However, the PPP, which they had defeated a few years earlier, and the same parties quickly established the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983. Despite being ruthlessly put down, the uprising made General Zia convene general elections. Before his 1988 death in an aircraft crash, the movement also left him highly exposed. Who killed him is still an open subject.
Four administrations were overthrown between 1988 and 1999, and there were blatant indications that the opposition parties were working with the ruling party. Nawaz Sharif attempted to become Amirul Mumineen with a two-thirds majority in the new parliament through a 15th constitutional amendment, which passed with flying colours in the National Assembly but was shot down in the Senate. NGOs, journalists, and writers all faced persecution for opposing the proposed change. Everyone came together to work toward a single objective as a result of the repression. When the generals eventually ousted Sharif from office in 1999, the majority of political leaders and civil society activists exhaled a sigh of relief.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was dismissed by General Musharraf in March 2007. The constitutional avenue was seized by members of civil society, journalists, and attorneys within a few days. I frequently took part in protest marches calling for the reinstatement of judges. Neither containers nor tear gas shells were present. The movement quickly expanded across the nation, and the All-Parties Democratic Movement was established within a short period. General Kayani reportedly contributed significantly to its success.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is said to have received current-day backing from influential institutions. As a result, the current PTI revolt is facing overwhelming challenges and has no backing from the ruling class. The corrupt dictatorship is supported by the global bourgeoisie, in Hamza Alvi’s words.
The PTI is facing a co-alliance of 12 highly skilled and crafty political parties on its own, as well as a partisan media, a furious bureaucracy, and a biased Election Commission of Pakistan. The PTI movement currently looks to be the only non-hybrid political movement in Pakistani history.
If the PTI stays away from the establishment, in my opinion, this is both a benefit and a departure period the party has to break its isolation, which it may achieve by connecting with natural civil society, such as labour unions and special interest groups. It must consider forming alliances with labour unions for manufacturing employees, sweeping worker organizations, nurses, teachers, truckers, peasants, barbers, small business owners, minority groups, and social networks.
To balance the influence of the party’s affluent and powerful factions, they must be supported. Instead of being loyal to the party, they simply have one interest: advancing group interests. Additionally, major political party leaders have developed distinct wings (such as labour, youth, and women’s wings) since 1988 rather than forming coalitions with marginalised groups, which has damaged and corrupted social movements. In the end, this damaged the moral foundation of democratic administration in the nation and eroded the social basis of so-called “mainstream” parties, deepening their dependence on the establishment. It makes sense that we now have two Pakistans, one belonging to the 1% and the other to the 99%.
There are no have-nots on the central executive committee of any political party, not even the PTI. The degree of democracy and good governance are closely related to union density (the percentage of working people who belong to unions). Nearly all of the Nordic nations rank highly on indices measuring the effectiveness of democracy and government. It’s interesting to note that they also have the greatest union density (61 to 92%) in the world. The only assurance of effective government in Pakistan is a non-hybrid, civilian-led movement, which may be built through Articles 3 and 38 of the Pakistani Constitution.